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Examine George, Martha and Nick's responses to the totalitarian vision of the future and what those responses reveal about their characters and relationships. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

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Re-read from p45 'Martha: What's all this business about chromosomes?' to p47 'Martha: Isn't that nice?' Examine George, Martha and Nick's responses to the totalitarian vision of the future and what those responses reveal about their characters and relationships. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a subtle example of a Theatre of the Absurd play, which surreally reflected existentialist philosophy: that people should take responsibility for their own state and actions. Edward Albee wrote and set his play during the Cold War in the early 1960s. The Second World War was still fresh in people's minds, and the key issue in this extract is the totalitarian vision of the future. This was a fear derived from political issues of the time, specifically, the fear of communism. Honey, who is quite drunk in this part of the play, doesn't make any important contributions and no-one, apart from Nick, takes any notice of her. Nevertheless, the other characters, in particular George, react to the totalitarian vision of the future in such a manner that uncovers details about their personality, and their relationships with others. George governs this scene, whereas it seemed as if Martha was the controlling character before. ...read more.


George maintains his game-playing and point-scoring with Martha by assuming a teacher-like tone, while Martha is the pupil. He explains that the chromosome business is "very simple, Martha", patronising her like she's a child, again continuing the games. George belittles her, implying she's a monster with a ravenous, almost sexual, appetite that "eats [chromosomes]... for breakfast". His sudden increase in conversation may be a means to hinder Martha's incessant flirting with Nick, since he is feeling rather threatened by Nick. Although George is speaking to Martha he is directing it at Nick. He links the idea of the banal unvarying race personally to Nick, referring to the "smooth, blond, and right at the middleweight limit" civilisation of seemingly "glorious men". Nick fits this description perfectly, personifying the typical, superficially perfect American Dream, and by making his condemnation of the vision specifically related to Nick, George challenges him. George is contemptuous towards Nick, and as the stage directions read, ignores him when Nick tries to protest. He doesn't trust Nick, and George openly challenges him: "I know when I'm being threatened." This demonstrates his acknowledgement of both the sexual threat Nick poses, and of the battle between art and science. ...read more.


Awww... Goody," are not ones made with great enthusiasm or with interest, although she is "impressed" at the start of George's explanation of chromosomes to her. When Martha does comment it does not exhibit anything that we don't already know about her, such as her sexual forwardness. Martha is subtly developing her relationship with Nick, flattering him constantly. She remarks how it's "not a bad idea" if everyone looked like him, and "salaciously" says "So, everyone's going to look like you, eh?" Martha's obvious flirting could either be taken seriously, or as just another game to annoy George. Along with her advances towards Nick, she gets at George by putting him down, teasing him about his "paunch". Martha and George's childish games are a common part of their interaction, and her mocking him is all part of the game. This extract is essential in showing how there is a gradual development of characters and their opinions, especially George. How the relationships between characters are portrayed in this extract is significant: they are beginning to develop, and their true nature is progressively being exposed. Yet Albee does not simply convey the characters and their relationships with each other, but perhaps even a portrayal of a wider society. In this extract, Albee criticises the concept of the 'American Dream', the idea of perfection through George, and successfully shows how all that glitters is not necessarily gold. (1263 words) ...read more.

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